The Maui tragedy and the twit parade it launched

By Lt. Col. James Zumwalt

As of Aug. 14, fires on the island of Maui had been mostly contained, with no active threats raging. However, the senseless acts of three twits – two on the island and one back in the continental U.S. – during this same week triggered a rage that is still burning.

All tourists had been advised to leave the island as locals endeavored to undertake recovery and cleanup operations. Not only was the purpose of the advisory to ensure tourists did not interfere with these operations but for their own safety in case a fire suddenly became uncontained.

Additionally, reports were coming in that homes burned and evacuated in Lahaina – nestled between the coast and West Maui Mountains and known for its rich history spanning over a millennium – were being looted. At night, tourists were even being robbed at gunpoint.

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Yet, despite the advisories, some celebrities would not be denied a vacation. As bodies continue to be found in Lahaina – with the last count up to 106 – we learn about the first member to start the twit parade.

Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton and her family were enjoying what was left of Maui, just 30 miles away from Lahaina. After Hilton’s vacationing was reported, sources close to her claimed she had been delivering supplies to shelters while vacationing. But locals were upset, lamenting with all the tragedy going on, Hilton demonstrated tone deafness to remain.

One outraged local exclaimed, “The same waters that our people just died in three days ago are the same waters the very next day these visitors – tourists – were swimming in.” But, unfortunately for locals, Hilton was not the only twit grabbing attention in the aftermath of the Maui tragedy.

Apparently seeking attention was a second member of the twit parade who stole the spotlight. Fleetwood Mac alumni Stevie Nicks, who owns a home on Maui, triggered local outrage by posting the following:

“Lahaina is not gone – it is just away – With Aloha, Stevie Nicks. As I am sure you have heard – the island, Maui where I own a house I have been staying at since the 80s – and the small village, city, most magical place on earth, Lahaina, burned to the ground over the past few days. And to make the situation worse my young niece, her husband, and their little boy had just arrived for a very needed vacation before she started her school year (on her way to becoming a psychologist) for 10 days. They had one and a half days of fun and then – the fire started.” [Emphases added.] Nicks went on to write about opal rings she had recently purchased from a store in Lahaina.

What made the post somewhat incredulous was, as many locals had lost their homes, all their possessions and family members, Nicks’ home was untouched, as was her family and her opal rings. In a time of such great personal tragedy for so many others, Nicks made the fire all about her, failing to voice any kind of financial support or assistance for those who had lost everything.

Without saying it outright, perhaps the common link between these first two members of the twit parade is that both are natural blondes. But I will not go there lest the perception unfairly be given rise that much more thoughtful members of that hair color are being lumped together in the same group with the aforementioned two insensitive celebrities!

This brings us to the third member of the twit parade who, as such, is its grand marshal. Sadly, it is our own president, Joe Biden. Having rejected opportunities as the Maui fires were uncontained to share some compassion for its victims either by his actions or his words, he failed to do so. Initially saying he would not go to Maui to personally assess the damage, the White House now says Biden and the first lady will visit the island next week.

While departing the beach in Delaware Sunday, Biden was asked by the media about the rising death toll in Maui. His response was, “No comment.” This from presidential candidate Biden who in 2020 claimed, “Empathy matters. Compassion matters. We have to reach out to one another and heal this country – and that’s what I’ll do as president.” Apparently, such empathy and compassion does not apply while one is lounging on the beach.

Of the three twit parade members, much more was to be expected of Biden. He supposedly is the leader we all should be looking up to in dark times.

In January 1986, as a stunned America dealt with the shock of losing the space shuttle Challenger, President Ronald Reagan delivered an emotional tribute to the lost crew members, helping to put us on the road to healing. We badly needed to hear such words from Reagan at that time. He reminded us that, “This future doesn’t belong to the faint hearted, it belongs to the brave” and that those courageous astronauts had “slipped the surly bonds of earth, to touch the face of God.”

Yet, in what has proven to be the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history over the past century, all we hear from Biden as the body count rises is, “No comment.” Not only is the Maui fire a disaster, so too is our president!

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